Straight off the back of being offered my first senior citizen discount at the races yesterday – I took it of course – today I redressed the psychological balance and have signed up on the spot for a running “event”.
Yes, this is something that a mere 12 months ago I would have sniggered and scoffed at even the thought of the merest possibility of doing. But today, bright and early along with 20,000 others, I found myself queuing up for my number and then jostling around in the joviality that is the start line. You hear about the camaraderie and spirit at such events, well for me this was a bit sparse. Lots of smiles, energy and lycra for sure, all brought together to a crescendo by the blaring “you will have fun” forced enthusiasm of the course MC / DJ, with his Mexican waves, his give away sporting goodies and his communal limber up. But this was not really for me and didn’t seem to be for many others either. My headphones went on, the Roses got me focussed, and before I knew it we were off.
A few unexpected snippets from the run. Don’t know why but I wasn’t ready for the shuffle start or the multiple spray downs en route. I’m sure these are standard fare for experienced fun runners but for me they were both annoying distractions. Topped only by the virtual force feeding of sugary sweets courtesy of a local radio station. Never one to turn anything down I took one and then suffered my only real problem during the run while I nearly choked. Favourite moments by far were towards the end, overtaking a good many much younger and fitter cohorts who were struggling to get home. My style may not be flash but I keep going and this gave me an edge and an inner smile. I tried desperately hard not to make it smug. It nearly made up for the plethora of eight year old kids who seem to hurtle past me with frightening regularity. Clearly they weren’t in the race, just enthusiastic bystanders joining for short spurts. Surely. My most vivid and frankly harrowing memory however, has to be the vast array of pungent bodily smells and odours you get to share on a communal sweatathon like this. My sense of smell is poor but even I was staggered by the veritable smorgasbord of previously unknown aromas I encountered. It may take days for me to recover fully, and that has nothing to do with my legs.
Overall a very rewarding experience; indeed one that I am quietly quite proud of. At the very least I can try to expunge the memory of the senior citizen discount – although presumably memory isn’t something I will have to worry about for long. I beat my target time, I beat lots of younger fitter morsels and most importantly I feel good. Of course, when I got to the shuttle bus to take us back to the start and got charged for the privilege (more than the normal fare in fact) my mood darkened somewhat, but hey, that’s life here. Free buses if you want to go drink at a concert or sport event but god forbid you should want to get back home after a charity fun run. It’s these wonderful idiosyncrasies that keep me going. No moral today, just that if you’re thinking about it yourself, yup, you guessed it – just go do it. Sod the planning, just sign up on the day and give it a crack. Enough do-gooding from me – I’m off for a greasy fry up.